Call to save Farriers Arms for the community as Morrisons plans to demolish historic pub

October 29 2020
Call to save Farriers Arms for the community as Morrisons plans to demolish historic pub

A HISTORIC former pub on Fishponds Road could be demolished.

Morrisons has applied for permission to knock down the Farrier's Arms, which has been empty for more than 10 years, and replace it with an open area the supermarket giant describes as a "public realm".

But campaigners are calling on the company to "give something back" to the area and convert the building for community use.

The company, which owns the building next to its Fishponds store, also wants to make changes to the nearby road junction to allow traffic to turn left from Fishponds Road into Hockeys Lane, although the final decision on whether to change the road layout lies with the council's highways department.

The Farrier's Arms (below, right) stands on the site of a forge which is believed to have been established around 300 years ago. It became a pub during the 20th century.

In its planning statement Morrisons says: "The building is currently vacant and detracts from the character and appearance of the area. It is also subject to anti-social behaviour and repeated break-ins and arson attempts.

"The demolition of the building will enable a high-quality public realm to be created."

The company says the open area would have "hard and soft landscaping", including seating areas, a curved wall and a "sweeping fight of steps".

It says changes to the junction will address "concerns from local residents that the current layout is unsafe for pedestrians crossing Hockey’s Lane at the junction, as cars often ignore or do not see the left turn ban".

Morrisons argues that the former pub building is "of low significance" due to its poor state of repair and "extensive" changes made in the last 100 years.


How Morrisons expects the new open space to look

But objectors say the building should be put to a positive use for the community – and accused Morrisons of neglecting it in the 10 years since its previous application to demolish it was rejected.

Resident and historian Mike Jempson, who drank at the pub when it was still open, said the proposals would create "what is essentially a group of park benches" in an area which was "neither a safe nor a healthy resting place" due to poor air quality.

He said Morrisons had ignored requests from local groups to turn the building into a "community hub", with a history centre and offices for local charities, as well as proposals from CAMRA to turn it into a real ale pub.

Mike told the Voice the building had an important role in Fishponds' history and added: "Morrisons have made a lot of money out of this area – the least they could do is put something back."

Bristol University historian Dr Madge Dresser, who lives in Fishponds, has written to oppose the proposals, saying: "Morrison's has been foot-dragging restoring this historic pub for ages, letting it deteriorate so it looks a less attractive candidate for protection – but it is part of the historic footprint of the area and would be better utilised renovated as a community space at a time when there is a desperate need for civic connection."

Other residents have written to the council in support of the plans (above), with several condemning the building as an "eyesore".

Laurie Marsh told the council: "I'm thrilled to see the redevelopment of this area and see a long-neglected and unloved building be removed. It's also great to see that the solution intends to tackle the traffic around the area.

Eastville ward city councillor Mhairi Threlfall has called for the application to be referred to an area planning committee for discussion.

She said: "The Farriers Arms is a 300-year-old building and the 2010 no to demolition resulted in pub protected status in 2011.

"Morrisons has not engaged local councillors with their formation on this proposal. There should be only exceptional circumstances for our pub protection policy to be challenged."

Councillor Threlfall said changes to the junction would "compromise" the bus lane, which would have to be partly removed for a left-hand turn lane, possibly requiring the nearby bus stop to move. 

The application can be viewed on the city council's website by searching for reference 20/04156/F.